Those who know me know that my values and beliefs are incongruent with late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s. While his dissents were enjoyable to read, with his creative use of almost Seuss-like language, his actual arguments were so outlandish that even Clarence Thomas seemed centrist by comparison. Regardless, I honor the title that he held and I admire the hard work that he did to uphold the law of the land.
Almost immediately upon his death, people began to talk about the prospect of amending the Constitution to allow for the direct voting of Supreme Court Justices. They say that if we are to live in a truly democratic society, we need to be able to have our voice heard in all three branches of government, including those who devote their lives to interpreting laws and how they t within the context of the Con- stitution. When I hear my friends advocate for the election of justices, I can’t help but cringe so hard that one would think I was reading one of Scalia’s dissents.
There can be nothing worse for American democracy than allowing the people to vote for Supreme Court Justices.
As it stands, American democracy is sort of like a fedora: it served a time and a place once, but nowadays the only folks that believe in its potential are annoying people on the internet. The whole point of democracy is to grant sovereignty to the people as a whole, but ever since 1992, the money required to pull off a successful presidential race has been on the rise. With electronic media playing a bigger role in our lives, the money spent on political advertisements during elections has exploded. The Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which lifted restrictions of political contributions from corporations, only catalyzed the in flow of money to Capitol Hill.
With the exception of Donald Drumpf and Bernie Sanders, every candidate running for president in 2016 has relied and continues to rely on corporate backers to nance their campaigns. In order to compete for advertisements and “air-space,” the presidential race has become more of a race for who can get the most money to pay for speeches, rallies, and advertisements. As candidates raise more and more money, those competing for the nomination are pressured to raise more money. The assertion by the Supreme Court that money is a form of free speech has solidified the idea that those who have more money can exercise more speech. Our elections are decided more by those who can stuff pockets than by those who show up at the polls.
The Judicial Branch of government is the only branch of government that isn’t directly corrupted by lobbying, bribing, and competition for ad space. This is because the role of a Supreme Court Justice is perhaps the most sacred of any government official: to make sure we are doing our Founding Fathers proud. Justices devote their lives to making sure that what’s going on in government is in tune with the very document it’s founded on.
Now imagine if the one branch of government that isn’t directly corrupted by the persuasion of money became susceptible to bribes and lobbying. Court decisions would not be based on congruence with our values as a nation but decided by the highest bidder. Decisions like Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges might have gone completely different if those who held economic power decided what was “right” and what was “wrong.” Money should not dictate what is just and what isn’t.
Most of those who hold public office at the federal level are spine-less puppets who will lean wherever the money blows. They fill the seats in Congress. They clamber for the Oval Office. Let’s not taint the last remaining branch of government with more spineless puppets. Keep elections out of the courts.